Ireland manager Stephen Kenny and his squad suffered disappointment in Helsinki this afternoon where they went down to a one nil defeat by hosts Finland in the UEFA Nations League. The team showing four changes from Sunday’s outing against Wales was again set up in the 4-2-3-1 formation and featured Dara O’Shea making his debut as the left sided central defender.
Ireland again sought to play the possession based style favoured by Stephen Kenny but had less success than previous outings with the hosts having a 54% success rate. Ireland did create a number of goal scoring opportunities but again our finishing let us down. It must also be said that our defending was not quite at the level of the previous two matches and on another day, Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki might have scored a hat-trick.
The goal, which sank us, was hugely disappointing for goalkeeper Darren Randolph whose sloppy throw out to the edge of the penalty area was seized upon and ultimately converted by Jensen who also scored the winning goal at the Aviva Stadium in September.
Despite the result, there are some positives to derive from this afternoon’s contest. Debutant centre back Dara O’Shea gave a fine performance and should he continue on his upward curve will provide a challenge to our regular defensive duo. Fellow youngster Jayson Molumby, arguably man of the match on his debut last Sunday, gave another industrious midfield performance while a third U21 player, Aaron Connolly, was a lively presence in the attacking third. While we must find that potent striker to convert the increasing number of goal scoring chances being created, the future does look brighter. Adam Idah, still only nineteen and a late substitute this afternoon, had no opportunity to score but will certainly improve. Continuing this youthful trend was another debutant midfielder Jason Knight who, while only on the pitch for the closing 11 minutes, looked very accomplished.
Team: Darren Randolph; Matt Doherty, Shane Duffy(c), Dara O’Shea, Enda Stevens; Jayson Molumby, Conor Hourihane; Daryl Horgan, Jeff Hendrick, Aaron Connolly; Sean Maguire
Robbie Brady for Maguire 53′
Ronan Curtis for Horgan 75′
Adam Idah for Hendrick 75′
Jason Knight for Molumby 83′